This is the third video in a series on improving corporate culture thru employee accountability.
I will discuss specific expectations every manager should clarify with every direct and indirect report to establish accountability within your organization’s corporate culture.
You can read the summary of the video below:
Improving Corporate Culture
This is the third in a series of videos that I’m doing on improving corporate culture by nurturing employee accountability. In our previous session, we talked about expectations and the idea that a person’s professional practices need to meet your expectations. Professional does not define what you accomplish but how you accomplish it.
We talked about things like work habits, interpersonal effectiveness, ethical behavior and how important it is to be clear about the expectations you have for each and every person on your team regarding these issues.
Using Positive Approaches
This week, let’s consider another professional practice: using positive approaches. If you expect people to approach their work and the people with whom they work positively, it’s important to make sure that expectation is clear. A tool that can help them is what I call it the PAL Model.®
PAL represents your three healthy choices when things are not as you want them to be.
When life deals you a hand you don’t like, whether it’s a management decision that’s unpalatable, a boss who is unethical, a spouse who nags you, or a meal that is not eatable, you have three, and only three, healthy options: Positive Change, Acceptance, or Leaving (P.A.L.).
Do Something to Change What You Don’t Like
Your first option is positive change: Do something to change what you don’t like. Take action that will affect a difference. Present a proposal that proves there’s a better way for your company to go. Let your boss know you won’t go along with his unethical behavior, or go to his manager and spill the beans. Refuse to accept your spouse’s nagging or get the two of you into counseling. Send that meal back to the kitchen or walk out of the restaurant. Just DO something.
Accept or Embrace What You Don’t Like
Sometimes, positive change works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes there are things you can’t change. Decisions you can’t affect. People you can’t influence. A spouse who won’t change. A meal you have to eat because you’re starving and don’t have time to go anywhere else. In those cases, your next healthy choice in life is to accept or embrace what you don’t like, understanding that there are some things in life we can’t change, or we’re not willing to invest the time and energy to do so.
For example, as a speaker and trainer, I travel a great deal. I appreciate the importance of airport security procedures, especially since 9/11. But those procedures are still a hassle I don’t like to endure. Would it be worth my time and energy to try to change them? Obviously not. So, I accept them (not always gracefully!) and I don’t complain, even while being put through the annoyance of a pat-down body search. It would do me no good, so why object?
You may be saying, “Hey, aren’t there some things you absolutely should never accept, even if you can’t change them?”
Of course, there are. Some issues are worth fighting to the death over, both figuratively and actually, depending on your values and the values of your corporate culture.
For example, James Alderson was a financial officer with a hospital in Whitefish, Montana, that was managed by Quorum Health Resources Inc. In 1993 he was dismissed from his job soon after refusing to follow the company’s cost-reporting tactics, which he considered illegal. He joined the U.S. government in a lawsuit against Quorum and its parent company, Columbia/HCA.
In October 2000, Quorum agreed to pay the government $95.5 million in civil penalties to settle two lawsuits that accused it of defrauding federal health care programs like Medicare. Columbia/HCA agreed to pay $745 million. Although it cost him his job, Alderson’s courage to speak up put the healthcare industry on notice that Medicare and Medicaid would not tolerate fraudulent billing. Hats off to Mr. Alderson. We can only wish that he had been the head of corporate culture for the Arthur Andersen audit team at Enron back in 2002.
If You Can’t or Won’t Apply a Positive Change
If you can’t or won’t apply a positive change to what you don’t like, and if you can’t or won’t accept or embrace it, the only healthy option that remains is leaving. Sometimes this is your best way to go. Not every job situation is right for everyone. Life is too short to spend your precious time fighting battles you can’t win or trying to mesh personalities that won’t mesh. The relationship between employees and employers is like marriage – there are times when divorce can be therapeutic for both parties.
My major concern is with people who, in the face of a situation they don’t like or don’t want, fail to choose one of these three healthy options. They’re known as the whiners, the moaners, the complainers, the “lipotagers” (people who pay lip service to support something and then sabotage it) who won’t do anything constructive to resolve the source of their disgruntlement—but will talk about it to anyone who will listen. I think of them as the “people who light up a room when they leave it.”
PAL – Positive Change, Acceptance/Embracing, Leaving
PAL gives people perspective and helps them choose the battles they can win without wasting time and energy on those they are almost certain to lose.
If you expect people to apply a principle like PAL to maintain a positive approach to their work, it’s essential that you clearly express that expectation to them.
So that’s the session for today and something to think about as you tweak your corporate culture.
Please share this with your people as a sort of a “rule of engagement.” It will cut down on whining and complaining, which are the bane of any healthy corporate culture.
Next time I’ll talk about other professional practices that affect corporate culture and what you can do to raise the odds that people will be higher performers, better at their jobs and happier at what they do.